When playing defense, you sometimes don’t even need a glove to make a stellar play. Bare-handing a ground ball is a difficult play that can be entertaining to watch but hard to pull off. To cleanly barehand a ball, the circumstances must be right, and you need to be well-practiced.
Because of the added difficulty, it’s best for infielders to use their gloves when possible. You should only barehand a softball when the ball has stopped rolling or the pace is too slow. For example, if you’re fielding a dying roller with a fast baserunner, you might want to go barehand.
Despite this being a rarely used skill in game situations, it’s still important to work on.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when trying to barehand a ground ball is to pull focus from the ball itself. Make sure the ball is secure in your hand before moving onto your throw. Don’t peak toward your target until you have control of the ball.
To train this skill, place a softball on an agility cone and approach it like you would a slow roller. Focus on getting a clean grip on the ball first, followed by stepping and throwing on target. Repeat this process until you’re comfortable with approaching the ball, securing your grip and throwing on the run. Remember to go at your own pace until you feel right with speeding up the process.
After some comfortable, positive reps, feel free to take the cone out of the picture. Have a coach or teammate roll you some ground balls for a more in-game feel. Continue at a slower pace and work your way up.
Having the confidence to make a barehanded play is half the battle. Use this softball fielding drill to be ready to come through when crunch time arrives.